We live in a world of distractions, temptations, and pleasures. It is a battle to keep our focus on God and look at Him as our ultimate source of all things. We run the risk of becoming despondent in relation to how slow we perceive our relationship with God progressing. St. Teresa of Avila provided some advice on how to approach this issue in one of her letters and laid out ways to fix this despondence.

Do not focus on being upset about not praying, but instead focus on praising God for having any desire to pray at all

Often, when we fail at something like trying to pray, we may beat ourselves up over it saying that we should have prayed harder, longer, and better. St. Teresa advises us not to do that. She says we should praise God for any desire to pray at all.

This strategy is clever because it turns your conscious focus away from the negative (i.e., not praying as hard, well or as much as you should) to the positive (i.e., praising God for what is good in your desire to pray). The positive focus gives us a foundation to go back to prayer without holding the baggage of our negative feelings about our progress.

Do not try and trick yourself into desiring to pray

We cannot set the foundation of going back to prayer if we do not believe we actually have even the smallest desire to pray. In other words, we cannot lie to ourselves about our desire to pray and think that we can trick ourselves into wanting to pray with no desire as such.

An easy way to see whether we have a desire to pray is to see whether we have genuine negative feelings about our prayer life. Just like earlier when we focused on the desire to pray, the presence of the negative feelings are evidence that we have some small desire to pray because the negative feelings mean we care in at minimum the smallest way. If we did not care, we would not have the negative feelings.

Thus, even the negative feelings are helpful in our prayer life.

Find ways to love God and thus be with Him

With our foundation established using both the positive praise of our desire to pray that is based on a true negative feeling about not praying well enough and wanting to, we can find small ways to be with God in love.

Some low-hanging fruit are small acts of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for small things easily excites more desire and love of God because as human persons we tend to be self-focused and myopic in our lives. Find one thing to be thankful for, and thank God for it.

Conclusion

As I have said before, prayer is a lifelong journey, so do not be discouraged. The most important thing is to never give it up.

How to learn more

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